John 3:16 book


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Bud
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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by Bud » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:40 pm

Hi Matt, I liked that chapter. I think it will serve fine. I especially agree and think that Jesus is the answer to every problem.
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard [it,] and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. (NASB) :)

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mattrose
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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by mattrose » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:20 pm

Thanks Bud... just finished a 3rd draft

Chapter 4 SON

In the previous chapter, I suggested a five-fold problem and solution. The problem is ours. The solution was given by God. The solution is Jesus.

But what is it, exactly, that qualifies Jesus for this role. How is it that Jesus is able to defeat the devil? What makes him capable of dealing with my sin? Is he really the one that can mend broken relationships? Does his leadership and example really surpass all others? Can he really connect us to God?

In this chapter we will consider what makes Jesus unique. Other religions posit a god or gods. Plenty of wise men have emerged throughout history. There have even been some considered to be part God and part man. But there has never been anyone like Jesus… truly and fully God… truly and fully man.

My aim in this chapter is to provide evidence that Jesus was truly God and truly man. I will begin with ten arguments for His deity. I will then give seven arguments for His humanity.

Something must be said, though, before we get into evidences and arguments about Jesus’ identity. Far more important than lists of reasons to believe in Jesus is to actually get to know him. He is not primarily a doctrine to be believed, but a person to be followed. So after we think about his identity as the God-man, we will proceed to think about our proper response… believing.


The Deity of Christ

It is outrageous for a person to claim they are God. Can you imagine meeting someone willing to seriously make such a claim? How would you react? If you are anything like me, you would much sooner believe that person was either among the most arrogant human beings in the world or among the most insane. Christians should not be surprised at the reluctance of the general public to disbelieve that a first century Jewish carpenter may also be considered the Lord of all creation.

Did Jesus make such a claim? It is sometimes pointed out that he never did so. Certainly we never find the words “I am God” coming from the lips of Jesus in the Gospel accounts.

We must remember, though, that Jesus was born a Jew and spoke to Jews. Religious Jews were and continue to be staunch monotheists. For Jesus to come right out and say “I am God” would have been even more confusing then than explaining the Trinity sometimes is today. Like God the Father, it is the habit of the Son to reveal himself in ways that are less direct than we think he should.

But let’s not mistake the lack of direct statement for a lack of evidence altogether. There is plenty of evidence from the Gospels that suggest the deity of Jesus.

Let’s look at 10 leading pieces of evidence…


#10 The Christmas Story
The fourth Gospel begins by saying that ‘the word’ was in the beginning. ‘The word’ was with God. ‘The word’ was God. ‘The word’ became flesh. ‘The word’ is Jesus. Matthew and Mark provide far more details. Jesus was Mary’s son, but he had no human father. The Holy Spirit is described as pivotal in his being conceived. Christmas is a celebration of this incarnation. The wise men came to worship him. Still today, we sing about Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’ because God is with us in Jesus.

#9 The Divine Titles
Multiple divine titles were applied to Jesus, but we need make mention of only one. Jesus was called the Son of God, not only by Mark (1:1), but by the Father (Matt 3:17), and those who knew him best (Matt 16:16). When Jesus referred to God as his own father, his enemies knew what this meant… he was making himself equal with God (John 5:18).

#8 Teaching and Acting with Authority
Jesus’ most famous sermon is recorded in Matthew 5-7. In the sermon, Jesus quotes familiar rules associated with Moses, one of the greatest most respected Jews of all-time. Jesus essentially says, “you’ve heard Moses say such and such… BUT I SAY.” This was shocking. He chose 12 disciples as if he was starting a new Israel (which was made up of 12 tribes). He took a centuries old holiday tradition (the Passover meal) and pronounced that it was actually about him. He directly stated that all authority had been given to him. He taught and acted as if he were God.

#7 Miracle Working
By themselves, miracles do not prove that Jesus is God any more than they prove that Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, or Paul are God. But while they don’t prove his deity, they certainly do fit with the rest of the evidence. The quantity and the quality of the miracles that Jesus performed lend credence to his unique relationship with God. They cause us to ask, along with the disciples, ‘What kind of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?’

#6 Forgiving of Sins
Imagine that, in a moment of weakness, you said something terrible to your best friend. Days later, you are still feeling guilty and decide to go and ask for forgiveness. But before you reach your friend, a seeming stranger stops you and says you are forgiven. Wouldn’t that be weird? That’s essentially what Jesus did in a few cases we know about. He stepped into a situation as a seeming stranger and offered forgiveness. It was as if the offense were actually against him and he was the one that needed to do something about it. When Jesus did this, his detractors knew this was a role of God, not man and so they accused him of blasphemy. It would have been blasphemous for anyone else, but not for Jesus.

#5 The I AM Statements
The 4th Gospel records a series of I AM statements that demonstrate that Jesus essentially equated himself with the God of the Old Testament. I AM… the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, the life, the true vine… “I AM he” was a lot like saying “I am God.”
#4 The Transfiguration
For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem we pay much attention to The Transfiguration event these days. Nevertheless, this episode in Jesus’ life surely points toward his deity. His face shined like the sun. The Father called him his son. The disciples were commanded to listen. Jesus was exalted over Moses (the great Lawgiver of Judaism) and Elijah (the great Prophet of Judaism). He was in a category all his own (see Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:1-8, and Luke 9:28-35).

#3 Testimony from Witnesses in the Know
You could tell a lot about someone from speaking to those that know them best. The people that knew Jesus best were those who remained close to him throughout his short earthly ministry. What did they say about Jesus? These people, some of whom authored the New Testament, wrote about him in divine terms. The beloved disciple, who may have known Jesus better than any other human being, most directly stated his deity

#2 Direct Claims
Some of the most direct evidence for Jesus’ deity comes from his own mouth. Jesus said that he came from heaven. He said that if you’ve seen him, you’ve seen the Father. He said that he and the Father were one. His enemies knew that he claimed to be God, that’s one of the main reasons they wanted him dead.

#1 Acceptance of Worship
When his disciples began to grasp who Jesus was, they worshiped him. Jesus didn’t stop them and say “Guys! Knock it off! I’m just a man like you!” He accepted worship.

The Humanity of Christ


Having examined some of the top pieces of evidences for Jesus’ deity, it is now time to turn our attention to his humanity. But before we go there, we should stop and consider why it is even necessary to address this subject.

The above evidence for Jesus’ deity was so convincing to many 1st century people, that Jesus’ humanity was actually called into question. In other words, one of the best evidences for Jesus’ deity is actually the fact that the early church had to deal with doubts about his humanity. As far as I can tell, the early church struggled more in defending the humanity of Christ than his deity.

I also think that Christians struggle more in this area today. Most Christians don’t have much trouble embracing and defending the deity of Christ. But one thing I have noticed in my ministry is that many Christians really struggle to truly recognize that Jesus was human like us. It almost seems sacrilegious to some Christians to linger on Jesus’ humanity for any amount of time.

Nevertheless, Jesus’ humanity is just as essential to our salvation as his deity. The fact that Jesus was truly man was just as pivotal to our early creeds as the fact that he was truly God. We must learn to take Jesus’ humanity more seriously. HOW, theologically, we understand Jesus simultaneously being fully God and fully man is a complicated matter, but THAT he was and is fully God and man should not be neglected.

Below we will see 7 evidences for his full humanity.

#7 His Flesh
God is Spirit. Not being made of stuff allows God to be ever-present… everywhere at once. But the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, Jesus Christ… took on flesh. He wasn’t a ghost. He really was human. He limited himself from being present everywhere and became present in just 1 location at a time. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was only in Bethlehem. When he was baptized in the Jordan he wasn’t simultaneously at the Sea of Galilee. When he died on the cross, all of him was there, suffering.

#6 His Immaturity
Again, it probably sounds sacrilegious to refer to Jesus’ immaturity, but I don’t mean it the sense that we often use the term. Jesus was immature in the sense that, during his time on earth, he was incomplete. Does this still sound heretical? Well, the Bible is pretty clear that this was the case. Jesus had to grow in wisdom and in stature. He even had to grow in his relationship with people and God. He had to learn obedience and be made complete. During most of his earthly life, he was incomplete, just like the rest of us.

#5 His Struggle with Temptation
According to James 1:13, God cannot be tempted. According to Gospel accounts, however, Jesus was tempted. Satan can’t tempt God since Satan is beneath God. But by becoming flesh, Jesus lowered himself to the realm where temptation is possible. And it’s a good thing he did. Because he was genuinely tempted, as we are, he is sympathetic to the temptations we go through.

#4 His Ignorance
Once again, many would feel uncomfortable talking about Jesus’ ignorance. They might simply deny it. They might just try to change the subject. But if we are going to take Jesus’ humanity seriously, we’ll be open to talking about those passages that refer to Jesus’ ignorance. He himself said that he didn’t know the precise timing of the end. On another occasion he didn’t know who touched him. We already referred to the fact that he had to learn certain things. Of course, Jesus was sometimes given special insights from the Father and Spirit, but left to himself his knowledge was partial like ours.

#3 His Weakness
You should be getting used to these potentially startling statements by now. Jesus was weak. He needed to rest and sleep sometimes. He couldn’t lift any more than a regular carpenter. Prior to his incarnation, of course, none of these limitations were on Jesus. But by becoming flesh, he effectively limited himself to the characteristics of true humanity.

#2 His Dependence
At this point you may be objecting to my line of argumentation. You might be saying, ‘but what about all the amazing stuff Jesus did? Doesn’t that show that he was unlimited?’ Actually… no. The gospel accounts are clear that Jesus ministered, healed, cast out demons, made decisions, preached, etc. by the Spirit. Jesus was dependent on the Holy Spirit, just as we are.

#1 His Death
Christians, of course, know that Jesus took on flesh and that Jesus died. Incarnation and crucifixion are essential to the Gospel message. Yet, these two facts go hand in hand with the other limitations mentioned above. Because Jesus really did take on flesh… he really was immature, tempted, ignorant, weak, and dependant. He was fully human. His full humanity was never on greater display than when he died. God doesn’t die. But God who takes on flesh does die. Jesus voluntarily entered the realm of death.

Thus, I feel comfortable enough to make the claim that Jesus, between his conception and the cross, never used his divine attributes at all. Not a single time. Instead, he limited himself to the status of a mere human being and became a servant of God. He submitted to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in his life.

To me, this is a very exciting realization. Why? It's exciting because I, as someone who wants more than anything to live like Jesus, will never have divine attributes. But I very much can be filled with the Holy Spirit! Just because the Apostles did miracles doesn’t mean we declare that they had 'divine attributes,' we simply recognize that they were Spirit-filled people, just like we can be. Jesus wasn't simply God walking around with skin, he was truly man and, therefore, truly an 'example' of how we can live obedient and Spirit filled life as well. As fully God and fully man, Jesus was uniquely qualified to re-connect man to God. And he did so. He did his part perfectly. But now we must consider our part.

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darinhouston
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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by darinhouston » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:11 pm

mattrose wrote:Thanks for the encouragement Darin :)

The following chapter is the one I am struggling with most. There's so much I want to say, here, but I do not want to get too detailed in a book of this sort. I could spend a chapter on the word WORLD and another chapter on the world GAVE (when I taught this series I did give both words a whole session), but I connect them so much that I don't think it's necessary... but the result of combining them is that I have to be too brief for my liking. So, like I said, I'm struggling with the best way to write this chapter (another issue is whether to include the 'answers' with the problem rather than at the end (as I have it below). In other words, this chapter is a complicated mess from my point of view.

But here's what I got...

................

Chapter 3 WORLD
lly man, He is able to serve as a mediator. God became man not simply to dwell with us, but to lead us back to Him. Jesus is qualified to plug us back in to the God, the source.
I tend to agree. It may be a bit too much for one chapter.

I wanted to see an independent discussion of the world -- what is the world? is it everyone or just some group (maybe too controversial but foreshadows the “whosoever” chapter) ? is it the earth or the people within it or both ? What is creation? It is perfect, but it's not -- it's broken but how. How did it start, how did it end up – is it just a spiritual brokenness or a material one and noting how those are related and fixing one can fix the other over time in part -- Finishing with it has a great need and needs rescue or ruin.

Then, the "gave" – what does it mean to give? Is it free? Is it conditional? How do you give a fix? Does it fix it completely? Over time? Fix the spiritual brokenness completely but not the material?The five fold solution could be part of "gave" -- what was given...

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John 3:16 book

Post by Bryan » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:13 pm

mattrose wrote: I AM… the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, the life, the true vine… “I AM he” was a lot like saying “I am God.”
You might add semicolons around the list -- the way, the truth, the life-- to avoid the confusion of having it get lost in the larger list as separate pieces, and to avoid the apparent duplication of "the life".


Matt, this is excellent material! Thank you for sharing. I look forward to each post.

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darinhouston
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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by darinhouston » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:50 pm

Obviously "Jesus" is the most important chapter -- have you considered an original approach to this chapter -- go deep into your personal views regarding the trinity and the identify of Jesus with God as part of the godhead, but perhaps consider "deity" and "Lordship" as a separate matter and intro it with something to suggest that your acceptance of Jesus as deity and lord doesn't require that you share any particular view about him as "God" per se. Still, there's plenty of evidence... yada yada... Also, noting that whether and the extent to which he shares in "God-ness" (I see Deity more akin to Royalty and Godness more akin to Kingship). You can be Lord and ruler without being the actual Creator -- in some metaphysical sense we will never understand, that He represents in a mysterious way the very union of Heaven and earth through the indwelling and incarnation of the spirit in a way that even the Temple did not fully so do. Jesus is the manifestation of God on earth and the fullness of the Spirit which begat him and fills him makes him every bit as Deity whether or not he is part of the godhead and that he has the scepter of lordship regardless. Now, I believe He is also a part of and the essence of the "I am" God as well, and there is plenty of evidence as thus... But, even if this is difficult to accept, it matters not for He has been given the rule and dominion over the earth and over satan and his sacrifice is worthy etc. I think to many this is an unfortunate and unnecessary stumbling block to accepting the very clear teaching that doesn't depend on a particular trinitarian view or formula.

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Bud
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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by Bud » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:10 pm

Hi Matt,
you wrote,
For Jesus to come right out and say “I am God” would have been even more confusing then than explaining the Trinity sometimes is today.
If you haven't caught this mistake: "then than"
Really liking the book. I'm thinking it would be great for gifts to loved ones etc. that haven't taken the plunge.

Also for me to read now and again b/c of my memory problem, so I could testify better.
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard [it,] and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. (NASB) :)

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mattrose
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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by mattrose » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:01 am

darinhouston wrote: I tend to agree. It may be a bit too much for one chapter.

I wanted to see an independent discussion of the world -- what is the world? is it everyone or just some group (maybe too controversial but foreshadows the “whosoever” chapter) ? is it the earth or the people within it or both ?
I did cover this topic (though not exhaustively) in the sermon/Sunday-School series I taught on John 3:16, but I cut it out of the book to keep the chapters about equal in length (form over function?). In the series, I created a paragraph (about Tim Tebow) which used the word WORLD in 7 different ways. I then discussed how John 3:16 basically has in mind a combination of 2 of those ways. I think the word WORLD in John 3:16 is talking specifically about the entire realm of corrupt humanity (all human beings).
Then, the "gave" – what does it mean to give? Is it free? Is it conditional? How do you give a fix? Does it fix it completely? Over time? Fix the spiritual brokenness completely but not the material?The five fold solution could be part of "gave" -- what was given...
In my original series, 'gave' was given a whole Sunday (the 5 solutions given in Jesus). With this book, I reluctantly made the decision to combine the solutions with the problems. I'm still not settled on this, but my reason was that to present 5 problems and then 5 solutions in separate chapters would really separate the problems from the solutions too much for the reader. I wanted to keep them as closely connected as possible. In fact, I considered writing 5 short stories (problem A ending with solution A would be story #1)... but I struggled in my attempt to write the first short story to my satisfaction.

Interestingly enough, I recently had to fill in for a sick pastor and decided to use the 5 short story approach. It worked well, but I couldn't duplicate it at a literary level for some reason.

Perhaps I am too much a slave to the idea of keeping this book short and concise. It could easily be a 100+ page book, but I am trying to keep it to 55ish pages.

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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by mattrose » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:09 am

darinhouston wrote:Obviously "Jesus" is the most important chapter -- have you considered an original approach to this chapter -- go deep into your personal views regarding the trinity and the identify of Jesus with God as part of the godhead, but perhaps consider "deity" and "Lordship" as a separate matter and intro it with something to suggest that your acceptance of Jesus as deity and lord doesn't require that you share any particular view about him as "God" per se. Still, there's plenty of evidence... yada yada... Also, noting that whether and the extent to which he shares in "God-ness" (I see Deity more akin to Royalty and Godness more akin to Kingship). You can be Lord and ruler without being the actual Creator -- in some metaphysical sense we will never understand, that He represents in a mysterious way the very union of Heaven and earth through the indwelling and incarnation of the spirit in a way that even the Temple did not fully so do. Jesus is the manifestation of God on earth and the fullness of the Spirit which begat him and fills him makes him every bit as Deity whether or not he is part of the godhead and that he has the scepter of lordship regardless. Now, I believe He is also a part of and the essence of the "I am" God as well, and there is plenty of evidence as thus... But, even if this is difficult to accept, it matters not for He has been given the rule and dominion over the earth and over satan and his sacrifice is worthy etc. I think to many this is an unfortunate and unnecessary stumbling block to accepting the very clear teaching that doesn't depend on a particular trinitarian view or formula.
I have a couple responses to your thoughts here

1. What I felt was missing from this chapter, having just re-read it, was heart. It is too information. It doesn't really get to the heart of the person of Jesus. What I pasted was actually an improved version of an even less 'hearty' original draft.

2. I have a few reasons for being pretty informational with this chapter

a. I see the book as being pretty evangelistic. My main audience is people on the fringes of Christianity or outside of it completely (though I think the book has value for seasoned Christians as well). But, basically, the 'information' in this chapter is intended for an audience that hasn't actually heard or thought about it before. So I agree that it's not 'original' but I wanted to be pretty unoriginal here.

b. I wanted this section to be a bit conservative because the 'perish' section won't be in support of the traditional view.

c. I plan on getting more 'personal' in writing about Jesus in my next planned project on Christianity and Violence.

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Re: John 3:16 book

Post by mattrose » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:11 am

Thanks Bryan and Bud for your edits. My wife found the same 2 things today, so I got double whammied :)

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